An etherealgirl's Adventures in Cyberland

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Flag Day: freedom isn't free

Today is Flag Day and also my little bro Rick's birthday. Happy Birthday to you little brother!

What does Flag Day really mean to our nation? I know what it means to me. Our beautiful flag is a powerful symbol, so much so that that it has often been hijacked by those who have employed a rather nasty habit of manipulatively wrapping themselves inside of it to justify any number of atrocities in the name of patriotism. This is the ultimate abuse of our flag and its true meaning. The truth is that you'd be better off burning the flag than disgracing it with such deceitful and ugly justifications. I am NOT encouraging that anyone do that; not in the least ~ but the American flag flies because it represents the will of the people. This revolutionary idea is so important it bears repeating: our flag represents our free will, our very right to be free to have our voices heard.

Our flag is the ultimate symbolic representation of the rights to the hardwon freedoms our nation enjoys, including first and foremost, freedom of speech. Any time that a symbol becomes more precious than the flesh and blood individuals it represents, the whole point of its true meaning has been lost and that very symbol has been dishonoured. Any time a national symbol is used to try and justify immoral, unethical, jingoist behaviours and attitudes, the true beauty of that symbol is desecrated and its meaning is lost. Flag Day, for me, is the opportunity to reflect on the real meaning of our flag and to celebrate the reason for its existence.

Some 229 years ago (as of July 4, 2005), a group of foresighted free-thinkers (indeed at the time, they were considered ultimate dissentors and rabble rousers by the establishment) had the audacity to believe that a government ought to represent the will of its people; they believed that We the People had the basic and inherent right "to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". They believed in it enough to dissent to attain it and to fight, and if necessary, to die in defense of it.

They understood what it meant to have no control of their own destiny; what it meant to have no autonomy and no right to make decisions that would benefit the people who resided there. They understood that repression and powerlessness was an intolerable existence for a people and they had the vision and the courage to dare to dream of a revolutionary new government that would free its people and give them a real voice.

Our beautiful flag was created to represent this new government and the citizens that she emancipated. The road to that freedom has always been a hard and bumpy ride. As our nation struggles to grow up and grow into the great nation we have the potential to become, the most mature and farsighted among us have always understood the larger and foresighted meaning of our revolutionary American Experiment; and they were often the first to lead the way, when the need to modify our understanding of national freedom became necessary: the abolishment of slavery, women's right to vote are the two modifications of that understanding that come to mind immediately.

We are still struggling to this very day as we learn to grow into the larger meaning of what it truly means to be a free nation and how best to be a beacon of light and hope to the rest of the world. Our flag is the symbol of that great hope. It is why I love our flag so very much.

There is a popular saying, often heard on the right: "Freedom isn't Free". I won't argue that at all; not one bit. And to our soldiers, the warriors of the past and present who have fought in the name of that freedom, we owe so very much. More than anything else, we owe them this: we must ALWAYS ensure that they are only called to serve us for the most ethical reasons. To do anything less is an insult to their service and a disgrace to our nation and everything it represents.

No, Freedom isn't Free. To use a quote from the current President, you might say, "It's hard work." And the very hardest work of all is the owning up to the responsibility of each and every citizen of this great nation of ours: We must live up to the symbol of our flag by doing the hard work of keeping ourselves informed and working for the highest national integrity that we can muster. We MUST SPEAK OUT against injustice; we MUST hold our nation to the HIGHEST STANDARDS of integrity. If we do not do this, we are not living up to our part of the bargain.

No, Freedom isn't Free. And taking it for granted is just about the most surefire way to lose it. And that is an insult to those who died to create and protect those freedoms; it's an insult to our Constitution.

And it is the ultimate insult to our flag, the symbol of that noble cause, that beacon of hope.

Posted by etherealfire :: 9:12 AM :: 0 Comments:

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